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Nissan-Renault draw closer by sharing EV platforms and batteries

Alliance including Mitsubishi Motors to pour $26bn to roll out 35 models by 2030

Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors believe that by joining forces and sharing resources, they will be able to bring down the prices of electric vehicles. (Source photo by AP and Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors are forging a closer relationship by sharing new solid-state batteries to bring down the prices of electric vehicles, the carmakers announced on Thursday.

The plan was unveiled at the "Alliance 2030" virtual conference where the three car manufacturers revealed the latest developments in their partnership. They announced that they would jointly pour 23 billion euros ($25.7 billion) over the next five years to roll out 35 electric car models by 2030 using platforms they plan to develop together.

This announcement confirmed a Nikkei report on Tuesday about the joint investment.

"The Alliance is aiming for more than 80% of our combined 90 models to share a common platform. This will allow each company to deepen forecasts of their customers' needs, their best models and core markets while also extending innovations across the Alliance," said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida.

According to the companies, only 60% of those models are made using their common platforms now.

Alliance Operating Board Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard explained that under the strengthened partnership, one leading member will develop a technology with the support of the other two.

"By proceeding that way, each member of the alliance has access to all of the key technologies," said Senard. For example, Nissan will lead in developing autonomous driving and full all-solid-state batteries while Renault will lead in electronic and electrical architecture and Mitsubishi will offer its expertise in ultra compact cars in Japan.

They are aiming for 90% of the new 35 EV models to be made using five common platforms, covering most of their markets. These platforms include the electric kei minicar platform, the CMF-EV platform for Nissan's flagship electric Ariya and other cars, and the CMF-BEV platform for compact EVs.

By 2030, more than 15 of the new models will be made using the CMF-EV platform, with up to 1.5 million cars produced on this platform per year, while CMF-BEV will be the base for 250,000 vehicles a year under the Renault, Alpine and Nissan brands.

From left; Alliance Operating Board Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, Nissan Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta, Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida and Mitsubishi Motors President Takao Kato spoke at a virtual conference on Jan. 27.

Nissan is developing its all-solid-state batteries in-house and aims to start marketing them by fiscal 2028. 

Solid-state batteries are widely considered more stable and safer than the lithium-ion batteries currently used to power electric cars, which catch fire more easily. The new batteries can also lengthen the driving range of EVs while taking only a third as long to charge as those in use today.

By making the most of common platforms, the alliance believes they can reduce battery costs by 50% in 2026 and 65% by 2028.

"With our common alliance battery strategy, we believe we can change the dynamics and deliver more value to customers," said Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta.

By sharing the new batteries with its partners, Nissan will be able to mass-produce them more efficiently. The three companies believe they would, thus, be able to bring down the costs of EVs to close to those of combustion-engine vehicles.

Despite rising raw material prices, Renault CEO Luca de Meo said that battery cost cuts are an "ongoing process." He said that the group had already reduced battery costs by 50% in the past decade.

The alliance has been working on reducing the most price-sensitive raw materials such as cobalt. "It's part of the game," he said. The CEO also said the group shares raw materials with its partners.

The amount that the three companies are pouring in pales in comparison to the 73 billion euros invested by Germany's Volkswagen for the development of future technologies including EVs between 2021 and 2025.

Renault Deputy CEO and CFO Clotilde Delbos said, however, that they did not need to spend as much because of the accumulation of know-how in EVs over the past decade.

"We have 10 years even more of experience in electric cars. We don't start from scratch. We know what is going to please the customer," said Delbos. "So in our view, we have a very intelligent way of spending the money and sharing what is best of each one of the worlds of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi."

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